141. Steve Fretzin, Be That Attorney — Business Development: How Soft Skills Double Revenue

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Relationships drive business. But how do you identify the connections that will generate more business for your firm? Enter Steve Fretzin. He works with start-up solos to attorneys at large firms – originating over $6 million in billables a year. He is also the host of the Be That Lawyer podcast and a four-time author.

Business development – or connecting one-to-one – is based on soft skills that might not come to every attorney naturally. But that’s okay. Steve is here to help give you insight and practical tools to help your business grow. He covers best practices for business development and how to stay accountable to your own priorities.

What’s in This Episode?

  • Who is Steve Fretzin?
  • How to define business development for law firms.
  • What are the most important actions when developing a book of business?
  • How to make decisions based on priorities and not the inbox?
  • What is the best thing solo attorneys can do for business development?
  • What secret power do introverts have?
  • What soft skills are needed to make the sale?

Transcript

Steve Fretzin

Perfect practice makes perfect.

Chris Dreyer

In business development, soft skills make the sale.

Steve Fretzin

Ask questions, not as a machine gun type of questioning, but more conversational, more listening, more open ended to get someone talking, to get emotional, to share their pain, to share their fears, because that’s what ultimately drives decisions with urgency.

Chris Dreyer

You’re listening to Personal Injury Mastermind where we give you the tools you need to take your personal injury practice to the next level.Business development is critical to the success of every attorney. Developing your own book of business is a great way for a solo attorney to grow their practice and a great way for lawyers at existing firms to stand out to make their way up to partnership. I’m your host, Chris Dreyer, founder and CEO of Rankings.io. We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings with search engine optimization.Business development are connecting one to one is based on soft skills that might not come natural to every attorney, but that’s okay. Steve Fretzin is here to help you gain the insight and practical tools to help grow your business. Steve has over 20 years of experience coaching and training. He works with startup solos to attorneys at large firms originating over $6 million in billables a year. He is also the host of Be That Lawyer podcast and a four time author. Much of the business attorneys generate comes from the relationships they build with care and attention. Making these connections may come natural for some, but for others Steve says not to worry. He has your back. His advice is coming up.We cover best practices for business development and how to stay accountable for your own priorities. Developing soft skills is a must and most effective when paired with a system for maximum referrals. Being at the forefront of marketing is all about understanding people. So let’s get to know our guest. Here’s Steve Fretzin, President of Be That Lawyer on when he first became interested in the legal field.

Steve Fretzin

I think I became interested when the concept that lawyers don’t learn business development in law school was brought to my attention and in addition, they don’t learn much at the law firm level. Most of the internal law firm, marketing and business development people are focused on helping with RFPs. They’re focused on helping just make sure that the people are out getting PR and super lawyer and all that kind of stuff. They’re not in the weeds teaching the blocking and tackling stuff that I get into and the process I get into with that.So what I realized was here, the best example is this. I worked with a lot of sales teams and entrepreneurs and many of them had been through training, they’d been through, they worked at multiple jobs where they had multiple managers teaching them sales and business development and all that and it was like before I could work with a new entrepreneur that had been in business for let’s say 10 or 15 years, it was like a whiteboard that had scribbles all over it. And I had to essentially erase all of that, all the bad attitudes, all the bad systems, the things that were ineffective and then I had to reteach them all these things. With lawyers, it’s like a whiteboard that’s never been written on. There’s nothing there. So for me, it’s much easier to work with someone that has a clean slate than it is someone that has all the bad habits and has all been taught things that worked in the ’80s and ’90s, but don’t work today like aggressiveness and pitching and convincing, which are all outdated ways of approaching business development.

Chris Dreyer

There is this, an older movie called Boiler Room and [inaudible 00:03:54] in this room, he’s getting ready to hire these future brokers and he asks, “Who’s passed?” I think the series seven or one of the… And one guy raises his hand and he’s like, “Okay, you’re out.” Because he didn’t want to teach, reteach because they already had a bunch of bad habits in his eyes.

Steve Fretzin

It’s not that I can’t break people down and get them into better habits, it’s just easier. Just like I can take an introverted intellectual property attorney who hates business development, loathes the idea of it and share that they can just follow a system. And that’s what a lot of attorneys are looking for is they’re looking for proven processes and systems and that just doesn’t exist in the universe of winging it and just, hey, figure it out and eventually things might happen for you. That’s not a great way. And a lot of attorneys get burned and turned off by networking, for example, because they’re out there doing it, they’re not getting any, bearing any fruit from that effort, and then they just get frustrated and just quit or slow down or stop doing it at all.

Chris Dreyer

Let’s define business development because there’s a lot of ways you can look at it. When you refer to business development, what are you referring to?

Steve Fretzin

Different than marketing where it’s more like one to many. This is more one to one or one to some as it relates to going out meeting someone who could do business with you and bringing that business in or developing strategic partners that refer you. It’s the activity that a person can take versus maybe outsource. That might be the difference between business development and marketing, for example.

Chris Dreyer

And I think from that, I’m a big fan of Naval Ravikant and he talks about leverage and he talks about distribution and marketing, but I think the one thing with those one to one relationships is, I guess a lot of people that you target, they have distribution. So in turn you kind of get to tap into that.

Steve Fretzin

I mean a lot of the business that attorneys get are through the relationships they develop. It’s not through marketing necessarily. So they want to learn best practices for developing those relationships to get results faster and that’s definitely going to be a one on one thing. You can’t develop a relationship as easily through marketing tactics, like writing a book, writing an article. People can get to know you through those means, it is not the same as having a conversation, learning about someone’s kids, learning about their hobbies, their passions, and trying to figure out ways to help them selflessly. That’s always going to do better than, “Hey, I put out an article that is amusing and has a point to it.” That’s great, but that’s not going to do this. That’s not going to get you across the finish line as quickly.

Chris Dreyer

And I guess the other part is if you just put something out and they don’t know you, they may not read it, but if they know you, they may actually care and spend the time to read it.

Steve Fretzin

Yeah. Thinking about two sides of a mountain and you want to climb both sides at the same time. On one side is the business development of the relationships and development of strategic partners and development of deep loyal clients. Then on the other side of it is the social media, the website, the newsletter, the ways that you’re marketing so that you can meet at the peak. And that’s where a lot of times people find their greatest success is when those two parts meet at the peak of a mountain, the marketing and the business development collectively.

Chris Dreyer

And Steve, you’ve written the Legal Business Development Isn’t Rocket Science. You got the book right behind you. And so you’ve been talking about this for many years and you’re an expert. What aspects of business development do you see most important for any firm, any size?

Steve Fretzin

Well, it’s easier maybe to talk about individual lawyers versus firms because firms, there’s so many moving parts with comp and culture and size and scope and where they’re located and there’s a whole other conversation. But as it relates to individual lawyers, it really comes down to how they manage their time. I mean, if they’re not being considerate about making time for business development, it’s always going to get pushed down to the bottom. There’s just no chance that it’s going to rise to the top. So we have to get our time under control. I mean, I’m even having high level conversations where lawyers are being handed work.They may have to have some difficult conversations with their partners to say, “Look, I really appreciate the work. I’m interested in taking it. However, I have my own clients and I have a bunch of things in the pipeline I have to make sure I have space for and your business is going to take up a lot of that time. So I’m happy to take it, but I might need some origination credit, I might need some managerial credit, something to balance it out, otherwise I can’t really take on that work.” I mean, that’s a conversation lawyers just would never have in the past. And now they have to have those conversations as well as thinking about how they’re managing their day, they’re managing their time. Are they run by their inbox or are they run by their priorities of how they’re going to advance their business development and origination as a lawyer?

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. What type of methods do you see as most effective for the time management side?

Steve Fretzin

I think there’s a number of elements to this. Number one might be how are they looking at their day, looking at their week. Actually, in some cases I have clients track their time, track their day, the way they would bill hours and track hours to look at all of the things that they’re doing that could be delegated, that could be dropped, that could be just, “This is not a priority. Why am I doing this on a weekday in the middle of the day?” And so that’s maybe a very beginner side of it. I also always recommend Getting Things Done by David Allen where I just steal a ton of stuff because it’s just so great, so much knowledge there. And also developing good business development habits. So if you make the time and it’s important to you to have a book of business and have control and freedom in your career where you have your own clientele that has to be built.Well, you also have to develop habits where you’re doing it every day or every week. And in some cases with my clients, I actually have them set up, it’s easier to work out with a workout buddy, I have them have business development buddies where they meet every week for 30 minutes or an hour. They get on a Zoom, they say, “Hey, this is what I’m going to do for the next hour business development wise.” The other person will share what he or she’s going to do. They go put it on mute, go do it, then come back and say what they did. So now you’re not alone in this. You have an actual partner. You can do that with someone at your firm. You can do that with a lawyer friend of yours. If business development is something that’s important, you have to be a student of not only business development but also time management because that’s what’s going to allow you to develop the strong habits to actually go out and get business or develop more.

Chris Dreyer

I love the accountability aspect of, and then if you have the right partner that can really rib you, give you a hard time, if you’re not holding-

Steve Fretzin

Yeah. Maybe some betting going or get some notes. Yeah, let’s make it interesting. Whatever you got to do.

Chris Dreyer

Competition. Yeah.

Steve Fretzin

Many lawyers are competitive. I mean, that’s a known thing. So why not set up some type of end of the month how many people did you meet with or how much business did you get? I mean, depending on what metrics you want to try, but ultimately it’s just easier to do something with a friend than it is to do it on their own. And developing positive habits around business development, it just makes it work. I mean, it’s like losing weight on your own is tough. I can lose weight with my wife all day long. I’m like an assassinate losing weight. If I want to lose 5 or 10 pounds, my wife and I just agree, we’re going to cut out this, that and the other. And we do. And when we don’t do that, well guess what? I’m on my own and no, there’s a Jerry Queen.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. Just to echo that, I have a hard time with my health and fitness, really difficult time. But the times that I’ve had the most success, I’ve hired a personal trainer because I don’t miss meetings and I don’t want to let them down. I know that a lot of times the personal trainers don’t make as much revenue and it’s all commission based and I don’t want them to lose that out. So yeah, it works really well for me.The other thing that I see, I don’t see a lot of attorneys, particularly in the PI space doing a ton of business development. They really lean on the demand gen, the lead gen side. Having said that, we talk about Morgan and Morgan and Mr. John Morgan a lot, right? Because he’s a master of marketing and business development. I look at his careers page quite frequently because he’s hiring so many employees. And I see, and his titles differ, but I see this account executive and I’m like, well, that’s a marketing type name typically. It’s not associated with legal as much, but I was looking at the job description and there it is. Go meet other attorneys, develop referral relationships. I mean that’s the name of the game. And I think that with all these social media channels and new one popping up, TikTok, maybe some of that is lost. And I’d like to kind of hear your thoughts on where business development sits as it just compares to marketing in general.

Steve Fretzin

I mean, I think for every individual attorney or an attorney at a big firm, mid-market firm, you’ve got to look at what your firm is doing on the marketing side and how is it helping you with your personal brand because Morgan and Morgan or a Jackson Lewis or a Sidley Austin, I mean they’ve got the name, but how is that helping you as individual attorney get business? And so everyone’s got to look at what are your competitors doing, what’s working for them? And do I want to get into that space and try to compete there? Or do I want to try to find some new space that hasn’t been developed yet and focus on that? And so a lot of it has to do with brainstorming with each attorney that I work with, for example, to understand where the opportunities are.Sometimes it’s right in front of them. And I always goof that the attorneys I meet with, in some cases, there’s a pile of money stacked up on a table right in front of them and they’ve been walking around it for years. And they don’t have to do any social media, they don’t have to do any networking, any of that. They’ve got 500, 700 clients that they haven’t touched base with. They haven’t asked, “What else can I do for you?” They haven’t asked for introductions, they haven’t done a lot of the soft skill things that I teach. And I’m like, “So why would you want to invest huge money and time on social media or paper click or all these other things when all the business you’ll need for the next two years is right in front of you through your existing clients, best and existing clients?” That’s one example of many. So we have to look at what’s going to be successful for the individual on the marketing side and on the business development side.And the problem is, I think most attorneys and they’re just not able to see around what’s going on because they’re just in it. They’re in the mess themselves every day. That’s why executives have coaches. They can’t see what’s in front of them sometimes. And even myself, my origin story was working with a coach. I was like the old school sales guy who thought he knew everything and I was top in my company and I was MVP and all that. So I thought I was it. And then I had this guy evaluate me and find all these gaps and all this time I was wasting. And I was like, “Oh my God, I never would’ve seen that myself.” And so there are people out there that have 10 years of sales experience, for example, doing business development but really what they have is one year of experience 10 times. They haven’t really learned, they haven’t really improved, they haven’t seen where their gaps may have, may be. I kind of gone off a tangent here but the idea is that whether it’s business development, marketing, we have to really look at it under a microscope and identify where the business might be for us different than maybe from a competitor.

Chris Dreyer

I like what you said and what I didn’t hear is the and approach versus the or approach is like there’s a place for both of them and that’s the name of the game. The other thing is, you hear this term rainmaker. Every law firm wants to hire the rainmaker. So you’re teaching that individual the skills to become a rainmaker. And we talked about time management, but you also brought up soft skills and confidence. So how do you instill those values? Because personally for me, even my agency, the most difficult thing to find is someone that’s phenomenal, that has those phenomenal soft skills. And it’s just so important. I find that just technology and those things are kind of lost. So how do you approach that with those that you mentor and you coach?

Steve Fretzin

Yeah, I think soft skills not only includes teaching smarter, more effective processes and methodologies, it also includes things like listening, body language, like neurolinguistic programming, empathy. And these are soft skills that some lawyers have and some lawyers don’t. And when they’re in a business meeting where they have someone in a vulnerable place where they have legal challenges and they’re pitching and they’re selling and they’re convincing when in fact they should be listening, understanding and empathizing and trying to let that perspective client feel understood. And that’s a soft skill that they don’t teach anywhere. But I’m teaching it every day and I’m practicing with my clients. I’m having them practice these skills in a safe, confidential environment so that they’re ready to go out on the field and play.And then when they do, we debrief those encounters. So they went on a meeting, they thought they nailed it. I asked them identify gaps, and sure enough, we find maybe one or two things that they missed that would’ve made the meeting even better. Now they’re learning and improving. And there’s an old saying we’ve had our whole lives, practice makes perfect. And Lombardi, I keep going back to this brilliant football coach who said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”And so what I do is I try to allow my clients to fail, allow them to make mistakes, debrief it with me, identify an error where empathy should have been used more, softening statements of how they ran the meeting where they ask questions not as a rapid fire machine gun type of questioning, but more conversational, more listening, more open ended to get someone talking, to get emotional, to share their pain, to share their fears because that’s what ultimately drives decisions with urgency. And so there are all these things that we’re teaching that go so far beyond basic questioning or basic qualifying or presenting. These are things we work on. And that’s why I put clients through an eight month intensive program versus just some one-on-one coaching that happens every month or something. They’re with me on a regular basis to learn all these skills. One of the few people that I think that runs a program where it combines coaching and training, because I know they need all those soft skills in addition to the methodologies.

Chris Dreyer

What I’ve found challenging and having these eight month programs, I’d like to hear your opinion on this is, and we try to hire this from a values perspective, are those that are take complete ownership and accountability.

Steve Fretzin

Yeah.

Chris Dreyer

It’s that vulnerable side of them. “Maybe I could have been a better listener here. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.” Is that another reason why you kind of extend that out so that they trust you and they have this safe environment? Or do you find that, hey, I’m paying for this service, and that kind of lends itself to the openness?

Steve Fretzin

I mean, the fact that they’re investing time, money, and energy to work with me is a level of commitment that has to happen to learn. I mean, nobody should go and get an MBA and spend that money if you’re not going to show up for class, if you’re not going to learn, if you’re not going to use that MBA, other than just having MBA on your resume. Quite frankly, it’s fun to win and it’s fun to work with attorneys that are hungry to grow. And that’s really what helps me to be successful, is having really ambitious, hungry, motivated clients to work with.

Chris Dreyer

We had Seth Godin on and he talked about the individuals that joined, that where he gave them a free entry into his university. They almost all dropped off, or they didn’t complete it because they had that no sun cost and even for the dollar. Well-

Steve Fretzin

To build that internal loyalty and that culture at a firm, there’s so many things that are now the baseline of what has to happen. Healthcare, time off, effective equipment automation. That’s going to develop at least the beginning of a good culture, good comp program. But with business development, it’s a little different. It’s not for everybody. And sometimes I look at it and it’s almost like 5% of the legal population is really open and interested in growing and understand the importance of it. But taking action is very different. It’s something that has to become a habit and not everybody’s ready for that and not everybody’s up for it. Some people are just super happy if they’re big firm making their half a million or million a year. And then business development just isn’t a big deal because they’ve got the lifestyle where they can bill hours, they can make money and spend time with their family.If they’re not spending time with their family and all they’re doing is billing hours and burning out, that might be a warning sign that you might want to go ahead and get some of your own clients because then you’re portable and you have control. Where right now, I mean, I’m talking to a lawyer at a big firm and this guy is just being run around by a practice leader who has 30 lawyers under him and this guy can’t get out from under it. I mean, where’s his career? He’s 10 years in and he has none of his own clients. He has to work under this tyrant leader. And other than leaving the firm, which he doesn’t want to do, what’s his option? So business development is a way out, but you have to be significantly serious about it to do it.

Chris Dreyer

I would say that’s also the best track to a partnership. If you’re bringing in revenue, they want that, they want to participate that. So again, your book Legal Business Development Isn’t Rocket Science. It has over 250 actionable ways to do this that attorneys can grow their business. What are three things that our listeners, our personal injury attorney audience could do on the business development side?

Steve Fretzin

Well, one of the things I would start off with is that the mentality about business development and the negative connotation it has and you know can call it sales, business development. And I don’t think many lawyers got into practicing law so that they can go out and sell legal services. However, can we look at it from a different perspective and understand that, hey, this actually might be fun.And here’s a good example, I was working with a golf pro and he said, “Hey, hit 10 balls.” And this is one of my chapters in the book is giving this story working with a golf pro. And he said, “Hey, hit 10 balls for me out into the range.” So I hit 10 balls and he says, “Steve, did you enjoy hitting those balls?” I go, “What do you mean?” He goes,” Well, what do you think golf is?” I said, “Well, golf is getting the balls straight down the fairway so you can get in the hole with as many as few shots as.” He goes, “Yeah, that’s the result of hitting the ball. But what do you think the game of golf really is?” I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I was freaking clueless on this thing. He goes, “Steve, it’s all about the swing. The swing is the game. Whether it’s a putt, whether it’s a drive, whether it’s a mid-range iron, the swing is the game. And if you enjoy the swing and you feel good about the swing, not only do you get a better result, but you enjoy the game more.” And I was like, “Holy.” Blew my mind. Wow.And then I, of course, put it into my own world and I said, “Wait a second. That’s what business development needs to be.” If you enjoy doing business development, it isn’t a chore, it isn’t horrifying, it isn’t about something that makes you feel icky. That’s going to be a huge factor in your success in growing your book of business because now you’re enjoying meeting people, you’re enjoying asking questions. And guess what? It’s fun to close business. It’s fun to get someone to say yes and have them say yes because there’s a fit, because you found a match. That’s a beautiful thing. And lawyers don’t understand how good it feels when someone says yes to you. And yeah, there might be some nos, but I even teach how good a no can feel. That’s maybe another chapter. But the idea is that if we can enjoy the swing in business development the same way that I now enjoy my golf swing, that’s a huge lesson from the book and I can really turn someone’s mind around to not see it as a bad thing, but see it as a real positive.

Chris Dreyer

Flipping the perspective can help transform business development from a chore to an enjoyable part of your day, which is easy to say for those who are more extroverted. But what about the introverts?

Steve Fretzin

Here’s the dirty little secret about introverts. I used to believe that they couldn’t do business development because they weren’t built for it. In fact, I do assessments, ones called the DiSC for example, where it’s a behavioral assessment and there are people that are extroverted that are more built for a sales role, for example. So if I was recruiting for sales, I would look for someone that’s built that way and the introverts I would sort of avoid. And I have a very different feeling about that because I have had some of my greatest success stories with the intellectual property attorneys, with the attorneys that are highly technical because what we don’t realize is that when they’re given structure and when they’re given process and when they have success with those structures and processes, then it becomes a routine and it becomes something that allows them to feel like an extrovert, even though they’re not, because now they’re following a system.If you just have them say, “Hey, go out and get business or go out and market or go start posting on social media,” they’re going to freeze up because it involves figuring it out, it involves putting themselves out there in a way that isn’t uncomfortable and they’re not going to take those risks. But if you say, “Wait a second, here’s how we’re going to post on LinkedIn. I want you to come up with something industry related that’s a poll. Something that you think you’d want to get information on.” Okay, well let’s figure it out. How many inventors are worried that their patent isn’t going to be patentable because it’s not a super unique idea. And then you can ask, put some answers and then put that out into LinkedIn and see what the responses are. Get engagement. So what did that take? There was very little risk. You’re polling people and you’re getting a good post out or taking someone else’s content and commenting on it.So we sometimes just have to take things slow and steady versus it being just like a fire hose to the mouth. And that’s what helps introverts really get across the finish line is that repetition. And then of course, if something is proven then they’re done. If you can get introverts to buy into something that’s proven that they then see the evidence that it’s worked for them, then they’re going to have great success in business development, marketing, et cetera.

Chris Dreyer

So I want to kind of tie this back because I’m really interested in this because we DiSC personality assessment for all of our employees.

Steve Fretzin

There you go. Yeah.

Chris Dreyer

So our account managers are typically DI or ID or some I component and then a lot of our project managers are CD, those types of individuals. So you’re saying the CD, those process oriented people that could be introverts on the assessment could actually be your best rainmakers just following a good process?

Steve Fretzin

Yeah, I think it’s… Look, there are people that are built for different roles within different organizations and so we do want to utilize. Extroverts are going to have a better chance, for example, of being rainmakers than introverts. But that doesn’t mean introverts can’t step up and do it. And we see that all the time. They just need to go through more steps in a different way to get the same result that may be an extrovert would, but at the end of the day, you can have people that are introverts or extroverts if they’re not willing to do their job, if they’re not willing to step up and take things to the next level in a new capacity, then it doesn’t matter. It’s more about their will to do it more than their personality or their behavior.

Chris Dreyer

I couldn’t agree more. Couldn’t agree more. So the legal industry’s changing. We’re about to get private equity and hedge funds over in Arizona, the non lawyer ownership and consolidation. So it’s becoming really competitive. Through saturation, paper click went from $50 a click to $500 a click for some phrases or more. And is this the answer back to the roots because this is how it was formed? There wasn’t Google back in the day. Is it a shift back to business development and relationships?

Steve Fretzin

I think at the end of the day, as things continue to get competitive as the economy is uncertain, are we in a recession or not? Are we heading into a recession? Lawyers in general, I don’t care if you’re at a big firm or solo, you’ve got to be cognizant of what the future looks like and how well prepared you are. Whether if that’s from a marketing perspective that you’re putting the dollars and time and energy into your marketing efforts, whether it’s learning business development and understanding that the future is going to be your ability to capture and keep and retain clients that can give you business. And if you’re just burying your head in the sand, I think you’re going to be the one that wakes up in a couple years and realizing what a mistake that was. I have attorneys today that hire me and they’re in their, let’s say mid fifties or early sixties and they’re all saying the same thing. “Geez, I wish I had done this in my thirties and forties.” Because they gave up 10, 20 years of their ability to grow business and capture that control and freedom and they just waited too long. And I say. “It’s not too late. I mean, look, if you’re 60 and you’re going to work till you’re 72 or 75, it’s still 10, 12 years of growing and getting your own business and building wealth. So let’s not cry about it. Let’s do something about it.”

Chris Dreyer

I couldn’t agree more, and I may kind of butcher this quote, but I think Einstein said something like the eighth wonder of the world is compound interest, and everyone equates that to finances and not necessary relationships. And I could say the same thing about business development versus say marketing. Marketing, you improve your owned assets, your email list, your social following. The business development, you have more relationships and those can compound.

Steve Fretzin

Yeah. I mean it’s that mountain I mentioned earlier. You’re building relationships, you’re developing strategic partners, people that refer you business on a regular basis. And then on top of that, you’re building the marketing side. Your podcast is building your network of potential buyers and strategic partners. Your social media is on autopilot. You’re posting now every day with good content, you’re writing a book, and that book is being pushed to best seller status. Whatever it is, it’s all working in your favor and you’re either doing something or you’re doing nothing or you’re doing something in the middle and the people that are doing the most are going to end up in a better position in the future. There’s just no way that can’t happen.

Chris Dreyer

And that’s how you make yourself indispensable. That’s how you future proof yourself. First of all, I’m going to ask a question that I don’t know a lot about, but I’m just curious. There’s this Dunbar’s number. It’s between 50 and 150 people where you start to lose touch and that’s also where in the growth of a business, it’s where you start to need to hire these non-revenue generating employees, these HR individuals, these people and culture. How does that factor into the relationship side of going out and doing business development?

Steve Fretzin

I mean I’m teaching lawyers that in this, I have a book called the Attorney’s Networking Handbook and one of the things I talk about in that book is how vast and huge my network is. And it used to be a mile wide and an inch deep. So I was meeting with a ton of people, I was trying to build relationships, but there were so many that it was impossible to maintain other than a newsletter, which ultimately doesn’t build relationships the same way as being able to spend individual time with people. So what I try to help people with is to develop spheres of influence where they’re investing the most amount of time with their top referral partners, their top clients, and they get more. People are created equal, but clients aren’t. So someone that’s giving you a $100,000 in business a year isn’t valuable in the same way that someone gave you a $5,000 deal five years ago. They’re just not created equal.So we have to look at what are we doing for our A contacts, what are we doing for our B contacts? And I have clients go through this where they actually take a list and they say, “These are my A players, referral partners, clients that I have to take the most and best care of. Then I’ve got my Bs and then I’ve got my Cs.” Some of that can be automated across the board. Social media, newsletter, LinkedIn, et cetera. And they’re all going to get that. But then let’s say it’s, I need to have a lunch with my As well, that’s going to happen every quarter. The Bs that might happen once a year and the Cs don’t get a lunch. So what are we doing to make sure that we’re keeping our…All right. Here’s a great example. Okay, great way to think about it. If I’m a baseball scout, I need to go to the right places to find players for my team. So I’m going to go to Japan, Korea, Dominican, I’m going to go hit the colleges, the high schools. Okay, I’m going to go where the talent is. I find the talent. If I find some young player, I’m not going to immediately put them on the starting lineup of the Cubs or the socks here in Chicago. What would happen if I just took someone 18 years old and put them on this, kicked my $5 million third baseman off and just put this nobody kid, I’m going to lose my job in a day, an hour. Okay, so what do we do? We bring them up slowly and we test them out. We test their skills, we see how they play. So we want to bring up people from the field to the minors to the majors on the bench and eventually as a starter.So there’s a number of layers and I need to keep vetting people up, but once I get them on the team, I need to make sure they’re playing at the highest level. I need to make sure my bench is still warm and I need to make sure I’m always recruiting, but I’m going to take best care of my players. They’re the ones that are getting paid the big bucks, then the second tier, then the third tier. So there’s a number of ways to look at it. Ultimately, you don’t have time to go and meet with hundreds of people every month or even every year necessarily. So we’ve got to look at them, but maybe valuing them as A’s B’s and C’s where they get different things, including our time.

Chris Dreyer

I think it’s super smart and that’s a brilliant way to look at it. And I think that example that you just said could go for anything. It could be for a new employee working themself up at the company as you give them some reps. There’s nothing worse than when you put someone in a position and are just not ready for it. And where you have to demote them or you have to… And I guess the same applies for just your time because we all have limited time in trying to develop these referral partners.

Steve Fretzin

The other part of it is without having any networking process or methodology, you just meet, move on, meet, move on, meet, move on and hope that things come your way. What I’m teaching lawyers to do is actually meet people, have a process for meeting, identify whether they’re qualified to move forward or not. If they’re qualified to move forward and I’ve got an acronym for that I can share, but move it forward and meet again and figure out how you’re going to help each other. And that’s a part of that vetting process. Let me say for example, Chris, that I refer you a piece of business and you say that you’re going to refer me a piece of business and then you never follow through. So I email you, you don’t respond, I email you again, you don’t respond. So what I’m identifying is you’re happy to take a connection but you’re not really willing to make a connection or put your time or effort, energy, maybe you don’t have the organizational skills to do it, but that may be a disqualifier for me wanting to be a networking partner with you because you’re not able to execute and follow through in a way that’s going to be meaningful to be a player on my team.I just met with a financial planner yesterday. It was a 30 minute conversation. The guy has already made two introductions for me that are meaningful, meaning lawyers that can actually do business with me after a 30 minute meeting. Now, he came highly vetted, I came highly vetted, but I was like, I didn’t expect that. I didn’t even think that would even be a blip of something that would happen. And that just proved to me, this guy’s a player man, this guy understands it, he gets it. And so this is someone I need to lean into because, and I need to make sure and I made a couple introductions for him right off to help him with some needs around books and podcasts and stuff. And wow, we’re off to the races man, but we’ve already, and we both followed through. I think within 15 minutes after our call, there were emails flowing both ways. It was like watching a kid on a field in the Dominican at home run after home run after home run and then pitch 98 miles an hour 10 times in row down the middle. And that’s what I just found with this guy and I was so happy.And originally I was turned off because it’s a financial planner and do I really wanted to meet another financial planner? Well guess what? They’re not all created equal just like lawyers and coaches. So this is the kind of stuff we need to do to get the best people move forward and not to waste time with the people who maybe aren’t really players or winners or going to really execute on the stuff they promise.

Chris Dreyer

It’s the go giver mentality, the give without expecting anything in return. When you find those individuals that reciprocate, I mean that’s nothing better than that. Symbiotic kind of rising tides or one plus one and it’s not two is three. And I guess on the flip side, there’s nothing worse. And I know we’ve all experienced this in our life when we give, give, give and you get nothing from the other individual. They just take, take, take and it just kind of drains you, the energy drains.

Steve Fretzin

I identified a gap with what was going on is that the Go Giver and other of the successful networking books, they talk a lot about giving, giving, giving and you can do that and you can build karma. And I did it, man. I was a believer and a follower. The piece that I sort of get into my books and that I kind of transition is give, give, give but give intelligently and test for results because not everybody is a giver. Some people are takers, some people are kind of what I call a parent givers where they appear to give, but ultimately they don’t put in the time, effort, energy to fulfill the promises that were made. And if that happens once or twice, it can really take the heart right out of your chest because here’s somebody that you thought was going to help you now or in the future and they really were not helpful at all. They just made us feel, just living in hope that things were going to come around and we invest a lot more time with them than we really should.So I like the idea of giving intelligently, testing the waters, identifying who’s real and who’s not and moving forward with the ones that are. And yes, it’s about giving but give with intelligence. And I think that’s my message and my methodology because I did the Go Giver mentality. And I don’t know, especially for busy attorneys, they’re not going to have the time to go and give to everybody. They’re not going to be able to meet people at the numbers that the Go Giver was suggesting. And I love the book. I’m just saying it’s not realistic for it’s… I think in methodology and in mentality it’s a great concept but in reality for lawyers that are billing 50, 60 hours a week, it’s just not going to work.

Chris Dreyer

And that’s why they got to check out your book Legal Business Development Isn’t Rocket Science.

Steve Fretzin

That’s why you got to check out.

Chris Dreyer

And this has been amazing Steve, and I’m going to take a lot of what you mentioned and reevaluate. I love these conversations because I get a ton of value. I think the first thing I’m going to do is maybe create that list of A, B, C and really evaluate who’s sent us referrals and who’s actually been a good partner as opposed to just… And really be intentional about it. And so I appreciate that. That’s really exciting.

Steve Fretzin

Yeah, I mean, again, it’s all about incremental improvement. And look, I’m not perfect. My wife will tell you. I have to keep learning. I’ve got a podcast, you’ve got a podcast. What we can we improve? What can we do to make an episode better? What can we do to better promote our sponsors? What can we do to… It’s a never ending game of learning and improving. And lawyers, they have no problem learning and improving the law but when it comes to marketing business development that actually directly impacts their revenue and it directly impacts their quality of life and they’re not willing to put in the time, effort to work with a coach, to read a book, to listen to podcasts like ours, I think it’s a big misstep. So that’s the message to everybody. I don’t care if you hire me or don’t hire me, learn something, improve something that’s going to make your life better, that’s going to make your practice more sustainable because the future’s uncertain.

Chris Dreyer

And guys, go check out Steve’s podcast, Be That Lawyer. And Steve, one final question here. Where can people get in touch with you? Where can they get the book? And just one final thought for you.

Steve Fretzin

Yeah, I’ve got four books completed on Amazon. They’re all available for sale. I don’t think they’re a big investment. I think anybody could handle that. And the money goes towards my son’s 529, which is a lovely thing to do. So check those books out on Amazon. I’ve got a website, fretzin.com and there you can learn about the two programs I run. I only do two things. If this isn’t a fit for you, I’ve got resources I can share, but it’s coaching and training, MBA style intensive eight month program that is game changing for most lawyers that go through it. Only the most ambitious, competitive, coachable people through that. I also run those rainmaker round tables where I’m taking successful business developers, managing partners, equities, putting them in a confidential room with other successful attorneys, letting them work on each other’s challenges, best practices and accountability for the quarters, for the year. And that’s all available on my website, fretzin.com.

Chris Dreyer

When evaluating the business development for your firm, Steve had some great takeaways. Make quality time, don’t leave it until all the other work is done. Scheduling is during your productive hours. Look at the resources that are right in front of you, revisit your existing book of business, ask how you can better serve your existing base, develop positive habits around business development and don’t go alone like going to the gym with a partner, have the right accountability buddy will help you achieve success in your business goals.I’d like to thank Steve from Be That Lawyer for sharing his story with us and I hope you gain some valuable insights from the conversation. You’ve been listening to Personal Injury Mastermind. I’m Chris Dreyer. If you like this episode, leave us a review. We’d love to hear from our listeners. I’ll catch you on next week’s PIMM with another incredible guest and all the strategies you need to master personal injury marketing.

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